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Din confesiunile unui scriitor, Mark Helprin

Helprin is a classicist. He believes in history, tradition, and eternal verities. He values aesthetic symmetries and the literary forms the centuries have passed down to us. To Helprin, the principles of modernism are fatal to art, and he has no truck with the avant-garde. “The avant-garde are frauds,” he bluntly declares. “Modern literature is all cool and detached, even though a lot of modern writers are passionate about their politics. To me, passion should be for literature, and reason and detachment for politics.

“A lot of people hate heroes,” he continues. “I was criticized for portraying people who are brave, honest, loving, intelligent. That was called weak and sentimental. People who dismiss all real emotion as sentimentality are cowards. They’re afraid to commit themselves, and so they remain ‘cool’ for the rest of their lives, until they’re dead—then they’re really cool.”

Literary creation, for Helprin, “always starts with something very small,” he explains. “I can sit down to write a story just by thinking of the first two words of a Scott Fitzgerald story: ‘This Jonquil’—it’s a woman’s name. This always gets me in the mood to write. We create nothing new—no one has ever imagined a new color—so what you are doing is revitalizing. You are remembering, then combining, altering. Artists who think they’re creating new worlds are simply creating tinny versions of this world.

“What comes to me is a diamond, found on the shore of a lake,” he continues. “Not a cut diamond, just the raw stone; it could be the last line of the story or the image of the last line. A poet might pick up that diamond and that will be his poem. But as a writer of prose I pick it up and throw it as far into the lake as possible. And then, perhaps in a zigzag course, go swimming toward it.”

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